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The Joy of Alone Time | Manolo for the Big Girl

The Joy of Alone Time

This was a slightly different week at Casa Twistie. You see, Mr. Twistie was away at a conference. It doesn’t matter what it was or where. The important part is that he was off doing his thing, and I spent four days and nights alone with the excessively evil Jake the Cat.

Meh, big deal, you may say. But in my case, this happens a couple times a year at most. That means that I’m not especially well-versed in being by myself for more than a few hours.

I am, by nature, a gregarious person. I am also, by nature, a person who needs to be alone. I walk the tightrope by working from home by myself and then spending my evenings with Mr. Twistie and good friends, and occasionally  meeting a friend for lunch at a neighborhood  bistro or a brief shopping expedition.

But four days pretty much by myself? I don’t do that so often. There’s an art to being alone for an extended period of time that I don’t think I fully mastered until quite recently. In case it will be of use to anyone else, I hereby give you my tips for being alone superfantastically over the short term.

Feed yourself well. This is the biggie for me because  food is often a community thing in my world. When left alone, I tend to quickly fall into the trap of skipping meals because I can’t be bothered. This, however, is a Bad Idea. It leads to lethargy and depression. At that point, I may grab something sugary or caffeine-laden, which is an Even Worse Idea, because then I’m lethargic, depressed, and shaking.

No, if you are going to be alone for several days, good, nourishing food becomes even more important. Make sure you’ve got something fulfilling and at least reasonably nutritionally sound in the house, or at least the take out menu of a restaurant in your area that delivers something that will nourish the body and the soul.

For me, I picked up some fresh shrimp the first day, because Mr. Twistie won’t touch seafood with a barge pole and I adore the stuff. I had it with a lovely stalk of broccoli and a bit of polenta with parmesan cheese. I made sure the fridge was well-stocked with yogurt for breakfast, fresh fruit for snacks, and a loaf of good bread for lunchtime sandwiches. I made sure I kept to a bit of a clock for feeding myself so that I wouldn’t get to the point where food seemed like too much of a chore to make. Because of that, I was well fed, which allowed me to make the most of my time.

Entertain yourself on your own terms. One day I treated myself to movies until my eyes began to bubble. Another, I read greedily of MFK Fisher (and can somebody tell me why for the love of fried catfish I have never read her before????), on another I went out to lunch with a new friend and then came home and had a long, cool  bubble bath. I listened to music I liked, wrote down thoughts, and dreamed  of feeding Tim Gunn fresh baked scones (Call me, Tim!). You may prefer to play video games or go hiking or tinker with your classic car. Whatever your idea of fun, have at it in your own time.

If you start getting lonely, contact someone. Seriously. As it happened, I did start to get lonely once or twice this week. And as it happened, someone either phoned or emailed me both times. But if others had not contacted me, I would have contacted them. Alone can be great. Lonely, not so much.

Don’t be afraid to do something unusual with your time. After all, who’s going to know or chastise you for it? I’m not saying don’t get important things like work and dishes and feeding the critters done. I just saying that this could be the time to sing a chorus of Rubber Duckie, write a fan letter to your favorite celebrity, or spend a couple hours following random links on the internet just to see where you wind up. Research whether you can get tuba lessons locally. Make a funky trim for your favorite hat. Try your hand at making chocolates or cream puffs or your own beef jerky. Start that screenplay or novel you’ve always dreamed of writing. Just exercise your curiosity or your creativity. This is precious time to get in touch with the core of who you are. Love whoever that is.

Spread out over the whole bed. Those of us who share a bed with others, sometimes get in the habit of taking up as little room as possible. Since I share a bed with a large man and the Incredible Nocturnally Expanding Cat (and those of you who are similarly cat-owned know what I’m talking about) I often find that I curl myself up in a little ball and teeter on the edge of the mattress through the night. Being alone for four nights, I got to experience what it’s like to really take up room in my own bed, and it felt great.

Doing these things allowed me to appreciate my time alone. It also gave me something exciting on my side to talk about when Mr. Twistie returned from his adventures. And that? Helps our marriage be superfantastic.

Be good to yourself when you’re alone. After all, if you don’t do it then, who will?

17 Responses to “The Joy of Alone Time”

  1. Wendy September 4, 2010 at 2:39 pm #

    My hubs travels a lot with work, and just went away for 2.5 weeks without me, and I LOVE IT. I lived along for a long time before I got married, and I really value my alone time, and I seldom get enough of it to please me. And I agree with everything you said in this post. Though sometimes (like last night) I really enjoy eating random weird stuff from the fridge rather than making a proper meal (even though I could have).

    Enjoy your week!

  2. Twistie September 4, 2010 at 3:22 pm #

    Oh Wendy, the random weird meal from the fridge is one of the great unheralded joys of being on one’s own… though one still must have some decent weird stuff to make it from. Leftover Chinese takeout has been known to figure largely in my random weird meals.

  3. The gold digger September 4, 2010 at 3:35 pm #

    What Wendy said.

  4. Toby Wollin September 4, 2010 at 4:31 pm #

    Yep – having something or something(s) good in the fridge is crucial. I’m a big ‘fire up the crock pot’ or ‘make a roast’ or something on the weekends anyway because I hate coming home and not having something close to ready for dinner. So, if you get stuff prepared, then when the Mister or the rest of the fam is away, you are not putting up with crackers and peanut butter. I also am a sewer and a knitter, so if I have alone time, I tend to plan for a giant ‘crawl around on the floor and cut out a mess of muslins or stuff for outfits’ – because that activity is something I tend to avoid like the plague and it’s good for getting out of the way when I have alone time. I end up feeling as if I have truly accomplished something. Once when the DH was away for an entire week, I took down all the doors from the cupboards, scrubbed the rest and painted them all white, so that when he got home, it looked like we had an entirely new kitchen. Great stuff.

  5. Dawn September 4, 2010 at 5:44 pm #

    I have been with my husband most of my teen years and ALL of my adult life . For us spending one night apart is horrible . Its only happened a few times , when there was a big job at work or one of my mama’s sleep over partys she sometimes has for all the woman in my family . If he were gone a week or more at the time , I would be exstreamly lonely , even with both my boys here . Hell , I miss him so much when he’s at work , some days I just want to cry . lol . We are really close . I dont think eiather of us would make it a week apart !

  6. Tiff September 4, 2010 at 8:22 pm #

    I am a firm believer that (for most people, not all) the key to enjoying your partner’s company over the long haul is the opportunity to *miss* them. I prefer not to miss him for more than a couple of days because then it starts to edge into loneliness to be fended off, but those first couple of days are restorative. :)

  7. Leigh Ann September 4, 2010 at 10:03 pm #

    I love MFK Fisher. And I’ve had a crush on Tim Gunn for years! I do like being alone, I have to admit. My husband works a rotating shift, and I enjoy my time home alone when he’s working nights. I’ve always been a person who values time to myself. But the key to enjoying solitude is knowing he’ll be back! This summer, there was something unusual going on at his place of work, and he worked every night for three months. That got on my nerves, as I work days and we hardly saw each other. I found myself feeling lonely. Feeling lonely or bored is not something I feel very often–hardly ever–but this summer I felt it. I’m sure it was good for me, as it reminded me of how glad I am to see him when he’s home!

  8. La Petite Acadienne September 4, 2010 at 10:43 pm #

    I don’t often get alone time, but I relish it when I do. There’s something delicious about not having to be anywhere for anybody at any particular time. If, after work, I choose to trot down to a coffee shop and spend two hours drinking coffee, people-watching, and reading magazines, I can do so, because nobody is waiting for me at home.

  9. Violet in Twilight September 5, 2010 at 2:05 am #

    How appropriate! Currently, I am on travel for work and away from hubby and fam. After one week I am alone and lonely (new place). I don’t know how to spend the next week before the reunion!

    I am already heading into ‘skipping meals and getting suger high’ zone. Thanks for the reminder, now I will go and make a good dinner for myself.

  10. Fabrisse September 5, 2010 at 4:09 pm #

    YOU’D NEVER READ MFK FISHER?

    I’d have gotten you her complete works for your birthday had I known.

  11. Thea September 6, 2010 at 1:45 pm #

    A tad late to this party I know but when my husband travels is when I strategically stock up on all the BBC costume dramas and other chick fare that I normally don’t watch without accompanying snide comments from the other occupant of my house

  12. The Accidental Tangoiste September 6, 2010 at 2:03 pm #

    Just last night I had proof of the importance of feeding yourself well, when my dinner plans with friends fell through, and I tried to tell myself “Oh, that soup I had as a late lunch will probably see me through the evening. It was a very late lunch, after all.” Yeah … no. But a quick run to the grocery store and a nice meal of chicken baked with BBQ sauce, green beans, and potato salad (my best imitation of a Labor Day cookout, since I don’t have a real grill) helped cure my headache and my crankiness–and eliminated the feeling of deprivation caused by the charcoal smoke wafting throughout my neighborhood.

    Thanks for the reminders to take care of ourselves, Ms. Twistie!

  13. Twistie September 6, 2010 at 6:53 pm #

    @Fabrisse: You know, you have a week and I only have With Bold Knife and Fork. I’m just saying. Hee!

    @Thea: Yeah, alone time for me often involves a lot of Jane Austen films and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

    @The Accidental Tangoiste: You’re welcome!

  14. Mrsbug September 7, 2010 at 9:40 am #

    I never understand women who can’t be away from their men. I don’t mean that disparagingly – I seriously don’t understand it.

    I love my husband with all my heart, but man, do I need my space. I totally covet the days when he goes out on the road with his friend and his band (don’t get excited. His friend is a Christian singer-songwriter and they really just do church services). He has a class on Wednesday nights this semester so I get Wednesdays to myself. Of course, most of those Wednesdays will be filled in doing my little projects around the house that I try to keep from impeding on our “together” time.

    I love the “I only have to think about myself” time! Sushi, chick flicks, reading in bed, sleeping diagonally on the bed, leaving the music on, blah blah blah.

  15. Margie September 7, 2010 at 3:10 pm #

    I love my days alone!!! My husband has started biking again (bicycle not a Harley!) so he is out once or twice during the week for most of the evening or for most of a Saturday. I love it because I am able to watch MY tv shows or take a nap instead of washing dishes, or sit on his side of the sofa, or eat dinner while on the computer, or decide to spend the entire evening in my craft room making a mess with glitter and have the music up way too loud!!! Yahoooo! No Sports Center or Golf Channel!!!!!!!!!!!

    The only thing about being alone though, I don’t like cooking for one person. I would rather not eat than cook for just me. Maybe because I learned to cook from dad and because in the Hispanic culture when you cook you cook for A LOT of people :) Either way, I am fine with a bowl of cereal for dinner with a side of buttered toast. Mmmmm, or a grilled-till-toasty whole wheat pita filled with salami and cheese!

    I also enjoy driving to the nearby Target and walking around the store for hours. Not buying anything, just looking at EVERY item on the shelves and racks, just cuz!!! He hates when I do that but I love it! I can even get an icecream cone from the cafeteria at the store entrance before I begin my browsing ;)

  16. fatcow November 18, 2010 at 5:22 am #

    When I open your RSS feed it looks like a ton of strange characters, is the issue on my reader?

  17. ecig November 18, 2010 at 5:30 am #

    TY for putting this up, it was very informative and helped tons